Law News
Imposition: Enugu Speaker Threatened with Impeachment


There are fears that the Enugu State Government has moved against the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh, threatening to impeach him should he continue with his decision to go against the governor’s anointed candidate for the 2015 governorship election in the state, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

It is feared that the speaker may have caved in as he has not uttered a word in defence of his earlier rejection of the consensus candidate, which he made strongly at the meeting of the people of Enugu North senatorial district.

The threat came as the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday dismissed as “blatantly false, mischievous and calculated attempt to deceive the public” with media reports claiming that the party was in disarray over the emergence of Ugwuanyi as its consensus candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial elections in the state.

The speaker’s presence at the state caucus last Saturday where the matter of the consensus candidate was tabled, was a big surprise to those privy to the speaker’s privately held opinion against the attempt to impose a candidate on the state chapter of the PDP.

Investigations revealed that the speaker decided to take it easy after he discovered that the leader of the assembly, who coordinated the impeachment of the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, was busy collecting signatures to effect his removal as speaker should he continue to oppose the governor’s anointed candidate.

A source, who is familiar with the development, told THISDAY that Mr. Speaker is watching the development with keen interest but keeping the details of his reaction to the unfolding drama to his heart.

It was also learnt that the relationship between the governor and the speaker had been severely strained since he (speaker) joined three other governorship aspirants to condemn the governor’s attempt to impose a candidate on the state in clear violation of the party’s constitution and guidelines.

The governor was alleged to have told his close confidants immediately after the ill-fated meeting that he would deal with the speaker for having the effrontery to stand up to him in what he perceived as a rude display of crude bravado.
Fearing that if the speaker could be whipped into line and that they are not safe, some members of the assembly who had initially identified with those opposing the governor’s action have withdrawn into their shells.

One of them who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he did not want to risk the revocation of his landed property titles by standing up to the governor.

“These properties are the hedge I have against uncertainties in the future. If everything fails I will sell them to make a living. But if they are revoked I will be finished,” one of them said.

However, the state PDP described as false the impression being created that some notable leaders of the party including Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Senators Jim Nwobodo, Ken Nnamani, Fidelis Okoro and Chief Dubem Onyia boycotted the party caucus meeting, explaining that they had all sought permission to be excused from the meeting due to pressing official and personal engagements, but pledged to abide by the decisions reached there.

The party, in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary, Dr Okey Eze, also offered more insight into the circumstances that produced Ugwuanyi as the party’s consensus candidate.

Eze, who described the process that led to Ugwuanyi’s emergence as “an epitome of democracy”, said the reports were the handiwork of mischief-makers who were determined to undermine the integrity of the party for selfish reasons.

This came as a socio-political group, Enugu West, East and North Youth Movement, otherwise called Enugu three-in-one Movement praised Chime for facilitating the endorsement of  Ugwuanyi as the consensus governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2015 governorship election in Enugu State.

The movement said it was the meeting of all the governorship aspirants and other stakeholders from Enugu-North senatorial district, otherwise known as Nsukka zone, convened by Governor Chime at Government House, Enugu on September 26 that saw the emergence of Ugwuanyi as the consensus candidate.
However, the PDP in the statement maintained that the party leaders in the state were united in the emergence of Ugwuanyi.

“The PDP in Enugu is as strong and united as it has been since the inception of the Sullivan Chime administration. The party is even stronger and more united now that we have a consensus gubernatorial candidate, who was chosen through a very smooth, transparent and democratic process. It is the first time such a thing is happening in the history of the state. Anyone saying the party is in disarray is clearly being mischievous”.

The party spokesman regretted that the report had been anchored on false interpretation of the absence of a few key political figures at the state caucus meeting of the party, which endorsed Ugwuanyi recently.

Eze said Onyia had already issued a rebuttal through his lawyer, of the report claiming that he boycotted the meeting when he had excused himself and was abroad at the time the meeting was held, adding that he attended the Enugu-west caucus meeting that had earlier endorsed Ugwuanyi.

The party spokesman further stressed that some other political figures, who were reported to have been absent at the meeting, were not members of the state caucus going by the party’s constitution and therefore could not have been part of the meeting. These, he said, included Admiral Allison Madueke (rtd), Chief Anayo Onwuegbu, Frank Nweke Jnr and Prof. Barth Nnaji.

Eze noted that the journey to Ugwuanyi’s endorsement by the party had started on September 26th, when Governor Chime convened a meeting of Enugu-north Senatorial District caucus of the party, comprising of all the major stakeholders, past and current political office holders, party functionaries and gubernatorial aspirants.

At the meeting according to him, were “76 political heavyweights” from the zone chosen in accordance with the party constitution, in addition to all the 10 other gubernatorial aspirants from the zone.

Among the notable politicians at the meeting were Senator Ayogu Eze, the state Chairman of the party, Vita Abba, Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odo, former National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Ugwuanyi, Hon. Pat Asadu, Hon. Princess Stella Ngwu, Dr. Dan Shere, Ambassador Justina Eze, and Dr. Mrs. Sally Adukwu.

Others were General Fred Eze (rtd) and General Godwin Ugwoke (rtd) as well as chairmen of the local government councils in the zone and their deputies, all members of the House of Assembly from the zone and past and present office holders and all party executives from the area.

The ten aspirants at the meeting included Ambassador Fidel Ayogu, Chief Okechukwu Itanyi, Professor Osita Ogbu, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, Professor Simon Ortuanya, Chief Eddy Ugwu, Mr Dan Onyishi, Prince Mathew Agu, Obetta Mark Chidi and Onyishi Maduka Sam.

Eze confirmed that the Governor did not disclose the purpose of the meeting in his invitation, but said however that when he introduced the 2015 governorship race as the topic for discussion, all the people present agreed to deliberate on it.

“The governor allowed everyone to vent his views on the matter and at a time, he even offered to allow members of the caucus to go home and return at a later date, but they all said no and agreed to stay back and discuss it right there and then.”

Eze said that after extensive deliberations, the other aspirants agreed to step down for Hon. Ugwuanyi, adding that this was underscored by the fact that Ayogu and Itanyi, who moved and seconded the motion respectively, were both aspirants.

The party spokesman stressed that Chime had called for a counter motion and when there was none, he proceeded to call a voice vote in which the members unanimously affirmed Ugwuanyi as the consensus candidate of the caucus.

“I wish to stress that the Governor never participated in the deliberations but everybody who wanted to speak was given the chance to speak and at the end of extensive deliberations, the other aspirants stepped down for Hon, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

“Afterwards a formal motion was moved by Ambassador Ayogu for the caucus to adopt Ugwuanyi as the consensus candidate of the zone, Itanyi seconded the motion and it is instructive to note that these two gentlemen were aspirants,” he said in the statement.

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